Linaro Launches Two 96Boards SOM Specifications

Linaro has launched two SOM specifications for 96Boards—a Compute Module spec and a Wireless spec. It has also released two board designs based on the Compute spec, along with a 96Boards SOM Carrier board compatible with those two boards.

Linaro, the Arm-backed open source collaborative engineering organization, has announced the publication of version 1.0 of 96Boards System-on-Module (SOM) specifications. 96Boards is Linaro’s initiative to build a single software and hardware community across low-cost development boards based on Arm technology. Along with the new specifications, the company has rolled out two board designs: the TB-96AI based on a Rockchip RK3399Pro processor, and the TB-96AIoT based on the newer Rockchip RK1808 processor.

We’ve [Linuxgizmos.com] covered a couple RK3399Pro-based boards just within that last four months, including Geniatech’s DB3399 Pro, Vamrs’ Toybrick RK3399Pro SBC and crowdfunded Khadas Edge-1S SBC from Shenzhen Wesion’s Khadas project. The newer Rockchip RK1808, announced in January at CES, is basically a “lite”, lower power version of the RK3399Pro with the same Network Processing Unti (NPU). See further down for more details on the RK1808.

The launch of the new 96Boards specifications provides developers with a SOM solution that is compatible across SoCs. According to Linaro, SOM solutions today use a variety of different connector solutions including SO-DIMM connectors used in DRAM and Mini Module Plus (MMP) connectors for certain specialist boards. Up until now, there has been no solution offering flexible IO and a robust mounting mechanism, nor a standard form factor, says Linaro. The goal of new 96Boards SOM specifications is to enable plug and play compatibility between a whole range of different SOM solutions.

Two 96Boards SOM specifications have been launched: The Compute Module Specification and the Wireless Specification. Both specifications encourage the development of reliable and cost-effective embedded platforms for building end-products. The specifications have been proposed, created and reviewed by the current 96Boards Steering Committee Members.

The Compute Module Specification defines a SOM with generic module-to-carrier board interface, independent of the specific SoC choice on the module. The Compute module addresses the application requirements of segments including industrial automation, smart devices, gateway systems, automotive, medical, robotics and retail POS systems. Two form factors are defined as SOM-CA and SOM-CB with a maximum of four 100 pin Connectors. The X1 connector is mandatory on all SOMs. The defined interfaces are shown in the table below.


Compute Module Spec — Defined Interfaces
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The Wireless specification designs a SOM for interchangeable wireless module applications, supporting standard and/or proprietary wireless standards such as 802.15.4, BLE, WiFi, LoRa, NB-IoT, LTE-M etc. The specification is designed to enable evolution that will support multiple products and future wireless standards. The two form factors are defined as SOM-WA/SOM-WB with the pinouts to the specification shown in the table below.


Wireless Spec Pinouts
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TB-96AI

The TB-96AI can be combined with the backplane to form a complete industry application motherboard, and be applied to various embedded artificial intelligence fields. The TB-96AI’s RK3399Pro processor has an Arm dual-core Cortex-A72+quad-core Cortex-A53 architecture. The processor has frequencies is up to 1.8 GHz and integrates a Mali-T860 MP4 quad-core graphics processor. The chip’s integrated NPU supports 8Bit/16Bit operation. With computing power of 3.0 Tops, the NPU can meet various AI application needs such as vision, audio and so on.

 
TB-96AI, front and back
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The TB-96AI supports DP1.2, HDMI 2.0, MIPI-DSI, eDP multiple display output interfaces, dual-screen co-display/dual-screen heterodyne, 4K VP9, 4K 10bits H265/H264 and 1080P multi-format (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8) video decoding, 1080P (H.264, VP8 format) video coding. The board is compatible with multiple AI frameworks, the design supports TensorFlow Lite/Android NN API, AI software tools support import, mapping and optimization of Caffe / TensorFlow models, allowing developers to easily use AI technology.

TB-96AIoT

The TB-96AIoT meanwhile is equipped with the RK1808 AIoT chip. According to Linaro, the TB-96AIoT also provides rich interfaces and strong scalability. Aside from this, little other detail on the TB-96AIoT is provided in the announcement.

The Rockchip RK1808 processor used on the TB-96AIoT features a dual-core Cortex-A35 CPU architecture, NPU computing performance up to 3.0 Tops, VPU supporting 1080P video codec, microphone array with hardware VAD function, and camera video signal input with built-in ISP. The RK1808 boasts lower power consumption thanks in part to being built on an 22nm FD-SOI process. This shrinks power consumption by about 30%, compared with mainstream 28nm processes under the same performance, according to Rockchip. The device features DDR-free operation of the always-on device with built-in 2MB system-level SRAM. A hardware VAD function provides low-power monitoring and far-field wake-up, features all suited to IoT applications.

Both the TB-96AI and TB-96AIoT SOM designs are available for purchase from Beiqicloud.com—sign in required. A story by cnx-software points out that Vamrs is also involved because of the “ToyBrick” reference on the boards’ silkscreen.

96Boards SOM Carrier Board

The 96Boards SOM Carrier Board is compatible with both the TB-96AI and TB-96AIoT. It is designed to suit different markets and demonstrates how easy it is to support multiple different SOMs.


96Boards SOM carrier board
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There wasn’t much detailed on the carrier board spelled-out in the announcement, although this detail graphic was provided:


96Boards SOM carrier board detail
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 Further information

More information on the new SOM specifications can be found on the announcement page. You can learn more about Linaro’s engineering work on the Linaro and 96Boards websites. Beiqicloud is 96Boards Compute SOM Lead partner. For more information about SOM boards and Carrier board visit Beiqicloud’s products page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on April 2.

Linaro | www.linaro.org

SOMs based on RK3399 and PX30 SoCs target IoT

Arbor Technology has introduced a pair of System-on-Module (SOM) products both based on Rockchip SoCs, the RK3399-based SOM-RK391 and the Rockchip PX30-based SOM-RP301. Both modules run Ubuntu, Buildroot, or Android 9.0. Along with the pair of modules, the company has also released the PBA-9000-A, its SOM-Series, single pin-out design carrier board.

The Rockchip RK3399 SoC has been a favorite among high-end community backed Arm-based boards over the last couple years, and we’ve covered at least one every month over that period. Recent examples include Arbor’s own EmQ-RK390 Qsevenmodule, Geniatech’s DB9 SBC and Vamr’s 96Boards CE-compatible Rock960 Model C. In contrast, the SOM-RP301 appears to be the first module we’ve seen based on Rockchip’s low-power PX30 SoC.

SOM-RK391

Built around the Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core (2x Cortex-A72 + 4x Cortex-A53) SoC, the SOM-RK391 is designed for high-performance applications such as AI computing, edge computing and machine vision, according to Arbor.


SOM-RK391
For memory, the RK391 provides 2GB to 4GB of LPDDR4 DRAM and mass storage via 16GB eMMC flash plus support SD Card boot up. The Mali-T860MP4 GPU supports OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL and DX11. Display support includes eDP, MIPI DSI and HDMI. The compact 69.6 x 70 mm SOM supports extended operating temperatures from 10 to 70ºC.

The RK391 also provides WiFi /Bluetooth support including 2T2R 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac for WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 with real simultaneous dual-band (RSDB). You also get 2x MIPI CSI RX camera interfaces with 13MP ISP. For I/O you get 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 2 (Type C), 2x 2-wire UART ports and 2x 4-wire UART ports. There’s also support for RTC, 10-bit 1MS/s ADC, SDIO, DIO, GPIO, SPI and I2C.

SOM-RP301

The SOM-RP301 meanwhile is based on the Rockchip PX30 Quad-Core Cortex-A35 processor and measures a compact 70 x 50 mm. Arbor touts the board for its low power consumption, flexible thermal management, cost-efficiency and its suitability for IIoT applications. The combination of its hardware media decoder and processing power makes it a fit to implement in retail kiosks such as electronic restaurant menus, automated currency exchange machines, ticketing kiosks and so on, according to Arbor.



SOM-RP301
The SOM-RP301 offers provides 1GB to 4GB of LPDDR4DRAM and mass storage via 16GB eMMC flash plus support SD Card boot up. The Mali-T860MP4 GPU supports OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL and DX11. Display support includes LVDS and MIPI DSI, and those interfaces share the same pinout. Like the RK391, this modules also supports extended operating temperatures from 10 to 70ºC.

The RK391 also provides WiFi /Bluetooth support including 1x 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac for WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. You also get 1x MIPI CSI RX camera interface with 8MP ISP. For I/O the RP301 provides the all the same ports as the RK391 as described above. Despite the fact that Arbor touts the RP301 as a low power solution, its datasheet currently says “TBD” for the board’s power consumption.

PBA-9000-A SOM Carrier Board

Arbor’s PBA-9000-A Carrier Board for its SOM-series features a single pin-out design that enables it to easily support future boards in the Arbor SOM-series CPU Board family. The PBA-9000-A’s I/O configuration supports all of the interfaces on the SOM-series boards.



PBA-9000-A SOM carrier board detail
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Further information

More information on the three boards can be found on the announcement page. No pricing was provided. Links to datasheets for the SOM-RK391, SOM-RP301 and PBA-9000-A boards can be found on Arbor’s ARM-computing product page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on April 8.

Arbor Technology | www.arbor-technology.com